Tag Archives children

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has launched a letter-writing initiative to dissuade Burger King from using a “highly sexualized” television commercial to advertise its 99-cent SpongeBob Kids Meal. According to CCFC, the ad features Burger King’s mascot “singing a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1990 hit song, ‘Baby Got Back,’ with the new lyrics, ‘I like square butts and I cannot lie,” intercut with images of Nickelodeon’s popular cartoon character dancing on a TV screen in the background. The consumer watchdog has also criticized Burger King for airing the commercial during the NCAA basketball finals. “It’s bad enough when companies use a beloved media character like SpongeBob to promote junk food to children, but it’s utterly reprehensible when that character simultaneously promotes objectified, sexualized images of women,” CCFC Director Susan Linn was quoted as saying. “That Burger King and Nickelodeon would sell kids meals by associating a beloved, male character…

Recently published articles co-authored by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Director Kelly Brownell explore various aspects of addressing obesity. They include: Kelly Brownell & Kenneth Warner, “The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar is Big Food?,” The Milbank Quarterly, 2009. This article discusses the “Frank Statement” that cigarette manufacturers published in the 1950s assuring smokers that the industry “always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public’s health.” The authors call this “a charade, the first step in a concerted, half-century-long campaign to mislead Americans about the catastrophic effects of smoking and to avoid public policy that might damage sales.” They examine the food industry to find purported parallels. They claim that food companies appear to have a similar strategy, focusing on “personal responsibility as the cause of the nation’s unhealthy diet”; raising “fears that…

In a move that has reportedly angered some industry representatives, the U.S. government has set up a working group to study how food is marketed to youth younger than age 18. Currently, food manufacturers are encouraged to abide by industry-imposed rules for food advertising to children younger than 12. The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children was announced last week with President Barack Obama’s 2009 omnibus appropriations bill. The group will examine whether the government should set standards for determining which foods are healthy and appropriate to market to youth as old as 17. A Grocery Manufacturers Association spokesperson was quoted as saying, “This proposal is completely unnecessary. Taxpayer dollars and agency time could be made much better use of. Besides, the proposal—the way it is written—not only reinvents the wheel, it does so poorly with broad, misdirected language that goes far beyond marketing to children. Too far.”…

Quebec courts have reportedly fined a snack cake manufacturer CAN$44,000 for violating the province’s Consumer Protection Act, which forbids marketing to children younger than age 13. Saputo Inc. pleaded guilty to 22 charges resulting from a complaint filed by anti-obesity advocate Coalition Poids and the Union des Consommateurs. The groups claimed that Saputo used a cartoon gorilla to promote its product in day care centers, hailing the decision as “a victory for children.” “The World Health Organization has identified junk-food advertising as one of the top five causes of the current obesity epidemic,” Coalition Poids Director Suzie Pellerin was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Quebec’s consumer protection agency has apparently verified similar complaints pending against Burger King and General Mills. Media sources have noted that the successful prosecution of Saputo could signal a shift in how Quebec enforces its unique marketing code. The last court case testing the Consumer Protection Act occurred…

A recent study has apparently claimed that pediatric obesity may alter thyroid function and structure. Giorgio Radetti, et al, “Thyroid Function and Structure Are Affected in Childhood Obesity,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, December 2008. Italian researchers performed thyroid ultrasounds on 186 overweight and obese children over three years, as well as measuring their thyroid hormone and antibody levels. The ultrasounds of 73 children reportedly revealed symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which T-cells attack the thyroid, despite an absence of the antibodies usually indicative of this ailment. “The ultrasound findings are a bit mysterious,” the lead author was quoted as saying. “However, the findings do suggest the existence of a low-grade inflammation state, which has been known to characterize obesity.” Scientists have long suspected that thyroiditis can lead to obesity, but this recent study suggests that obesity plays a role in the development of thyroid disorders. In…

According to news sources, scientists attending the American Heart Association conference in New Orleans released the results of several studies including one showing that the artery walls of children who are obese or have high cholesterol are as thick as those of adults who are 30 years older. Led by Geetha Raghuveer, a cardiologist and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, this small study of 70 children used ultrasound to measure artery wall thickness. While no one apparently knows how thick a 10-year-old’s blood vessels should be, the researchers reportedly used tables for 45-year-olds and found the thickness comparable. Other research presented during the conference showed that 991 obese Australian children had a greater enlargement of their hearts and that 150 Australian children with a higher body-mass index had left ventricles that were slower to untwist in the heart pumping process, thus impairing the…

Researchers in Kansas and Missouri report that chronic medication use in children increased over a three-year period across all therapies studied, with the prevalence rate for type 2 antidiabetic agents doubling. Emily Cox, et al., “Trends in the Prevalence of Chronic Medication Use in Children: 2002-2005,” Pediatrics, November 2008. The study involved a sampling of commercially insured children, ages 5 to 19, and medications for asthma, attention-deficit disorder, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The researchers suggest that the increasing use of type 2 antidiabetic drugs was driven by 166 percent and 135 percent increases in prevalence among girls aged 10 to 14 and 15 to 19, respectively. Type 2 diabetes was once known as adult-onset diabetes, because it is linked to obesity, but it is appearing more in children. The study concludes with a call for more research into the factors responsible for the trends, “including growth in…

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) recently released a Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative in response to “community concerns about food and beverage advertising during children’s television programs.” AFGC developed the initiative after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) published its draft Children’s Television Standards 2008, which did not recommend further government regulation of food and beverage advertising. In agreement with these preliminary findings, AFGC nevertheless stated that industry “is still keen to address community concerns regarding advertising to children.” The initiative covers advertising on free-to-air television, pay television and the Internet; the use of licensed characters; and promotions in children’s publications. Companies that publicly commit to the program must institute an action plan focused on six core areas: (i) advertising messaging; (ii) the use of popular personalities and licensed characters; (iii) product placement; (iv) the use of products in interactive games; (v) advertising in schools; and (vi) the…

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Cancer Project has filed a petition with the USDA asking the agency to prohibit processed meats from school cafeteria menus. The initiative follows an advertising campaign warning about the purported cancer risks of processed meat consumption. Further details about the campaign appear in issue 277 of this Update. PCRM advocates a vegetarian diet and opposes animal research. See PCRM Press Release, October 9, 2008; meatingplace.com, October 13, 2008.

New York attorney Samuel Hirsch has filed lawsuits against fast food companies on behalf of two classes of plaintiffs who are allegedly obese and have developed diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol intake, and other adverse health effects from consuming defendants’ products. Barber v. McDonald’s Corp., No. 23145/2002 (N.Y., Super. Ct., filed July 24, 2002); Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp., No. 24809/2002 (N.Y. Super. Ct., filed August 22, 2002). The cases involve a class of adult plaintiffs and a class of children. The complaints are being brought on theories of (i) unfair and deceptive practices, (ii) failure to warn, and (iii) negligence in selling products high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol, and in marketing to children, in marketing addictive products, and in enticing plaintiffs to consume larger portions in “value meals” and “meal combos.” According to news sources, the named adult plaintiff, Caesar Barber, 56, did not realize that consumption…

Close